Opinion

The Biggest Oil Discoveries of 2019


Amidst all the talk revolving around finding newer sources of energy, the world is still making huge oil and gas discoveries. Since the shale boom, conventional oil discoveries have fallen steeply, and stands at its lowest in 70 years. There are still several amazing discoveries though, in the mysterious deep. In fact, 2019 has seen the discovery of 8 billion barrels of oil equivalent, compared to 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent in 2018.  What is disappointing though, is that our consumption rate is much higher than our current resource replacement rate. According to TradingBeasts, oil today accounts for as much as 43 percent of the world energy consumption.

     The company Rystad Energy claims that, our current resource replacement ratio stands at a paltry 16%! To put this into perspective, for every barrel that we discover, six barrels are consumed. Not only has our rate of recovery declined, with respect to our consumption, but making discoveries too, has become more challenging. Offshore geological locations, among other difficult oil locations, makes the process of bringing new resources online difficult, and time-consuming. Russia has technically chalked up the most oil discoveries this year, and the year is not over yet.

     Surprisingly, the Guyana-Suriname basin is proving to be a tantalizing prospect! ExxonMobil has made fourteen discoveries in the basin, and Tullow has made two discoveries of its own. Apache is currently drilling in the adjoining Suriname basin in the quest of finding reservoirs of its own. If Apache does manage to strike, investors will be licking their lips and look for a repeat of the dramatic pace of discovery of oil in Guyana! Till then though, Russia occupies the top spot in the discovery chart for 2019, followed by Guyana, and Cyprus.

  1. Russia

     Not far behind when it comes to discovering, investing and clinging on to new trends, Russia has discovered a whopping 1.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent this year, thanks to the finds of the Dinkov and Nyarmevskoye. They found the oil on the Yamal peninsula shelf in the Kara Sea. That is an enormous 17 trillion cubic feet of oil, in natural gas terms. This oil though is for Gazprom. Russia's state-run Rosneft is having a much harder time when it comes to Arctic oil.

     Rosneft needs $40 billion in tax cuts to get its Artic project off the ground. Rosneft has acquired 15-20 percent investment stakes in a deal with Indian financiers, but this deal will only take place if Rosneft goes on to gather $40 billion in tax cuts over the next 30 years - A steep task indeed.

     One of the major problems revolving around finding investors is the fact that Rosneft's Vostok Oil project reserves are worth about $15 billion, and climate change is causing gas and oil infrastructure to sink further into the ground. This makes it even more difficult to extract oil, in turn driving up costs. Russia may be leading the year in terms of oil extraction, yet extraction is an issue which they must tackle, sooner, rather than later.

 2. Guyana

     The discovery of oil in Guyana by ExxonMobil has put Guyana on the gas map for the first time. This is not an ordinary discovery – it is huge. To put it into perspective, fourteen discoveries have been made in the basin, and Guyana has already hit more than 6 billion barrels of oil equivalent in the Stabroek Block, with ExxonMobil's discoveries. Not only that, Tullow's two discoveries have yielded further oil.

* Jethro-1, Tullow – Partnering with Eco Atlantic, Total, and Qatar Petroleum, Tullow expects to find upwards of 100 million barrels of oil equivalent from Jenthro-1, in Orinduik Block – The well encountered 55 meters of net oil pay way back in August!

* Joe-1, Tullow – Followed by Jethro-1's success, Tullow announced that it had made a second discovery in September. Joe-1 encountered a modest 14 metres of net oil pay. A number of similar prospects had already been identified in the west part of the Orinduik Block, and the discovery of Joe-1 de-risks the Block. 

    Guyana has huge potential, and according to research, Guyana may land a future production rate yield of 750,000 within the next five years. This essentially means that there would be one barrel oil produced for everyone, on a daily basis.

  1. Cyprus

     Back in February, Exxon made a huge discovery of natural gas, off the coast of Cyprus. It is estimated that Exxon discovered 5-8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. This discovery is problematic for Turkey, and the Turks say that Cypriots have no jurisdiction when it comes to exploring natural gas in this region.

     The entire Western World and Cypriots disagree. Investors were not particularly happy with Eni's latest statement – If the Turks send warships to the area, then they would stop drilling wells. Nevertheless, the discovery is huge, even if it is overshowed with this chaos.

Conclusion on the Biggest Oil Discoveries of 2019

     The venues to keep an eye out heading into the New Year, are Suriname and the Gulf of Mexico. Suriname is expected to have large reservoirs of black gold, and savvy investors and the Government are anticipating massive finds, to Guyana's next-door neighbours. While no one has managed to strike black gold as of now, Apache is drilling in the sweet spot, right next to Exxon, tight up the borderline region. Drilling results are expected any day now.  

     As for the Gulf of Mexico, Shell, along with Repsol and Equinor found a huge oil discovery, back in April. The exploration encountered a net oil pay of 400 feet, and Shell has been particularly successful in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico – well on track to produce more. The future of oil discovery hinges on deepwater discoveries, and the age of onshore discoveries is truly over.



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